After 6 years in Los Angeles, I moved my family to a town of 5,000 people in Illinois. We can now afford the life our children deserve.
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After six years of living in Los Angeles with two young children, my family decided to move to a small town.
Growing up our children near their grandparents was very important to all of us.
In LA we felt like we couldn’t really take in the things the city has to offer.
This place is alive, I thought as I got out of the car at 11pm in a southern Illinois town of 5,000.
In August 2015, my family left Los Angeles, which is full of freeways and bustling restaurants. But this small community was alive to the sound of crickets, owls and the breath of trees. It was literally alive.
My husband and I have spent years considering staying in Southern California, with its high cost of living, random public schools, and distance from family – we’ve spent thousands of dollars on it. back and forth to the Midwest to visit them. At some point, it became unrealistic for us to continue pursuing what we thought was our dream.
LA has a lot to offer, but we weren’t doing much
We lived in Los Angeles for six years and loved the cultural diversity, the endless places to explore, and my husband especially loved the idea of being able to surf the Pacific in the morning and descend Mount Baldy in the afternoon. .
I too loved the idea of having outdoor adventures, Disneyland and the beach nearby to visit with the kids. But even though we lived 20 miles from some of these wonders, it could take hours to happen.
Sometimes we felt like we were trapped in heaven. We were close enough to have the appeal, but barely could drive between 6 a.m. and 10 a.m. Then we had to get home by 2pm or else we would be stuck in hours of horrible traffic.
One of the most traumatic days of my life was after attempting single parenthood at Disneyland. We missed the 2pm “avoid traffic” deadline and left at 2:45 pm. We sat in traffic for hours. My children, a 2 year and 6 month old, were strapped into their car seats, screaming desperately loud enough to explode their vocal cords and my sanity.
We couldn’t afford the life our children deserved
The cost of living added financial stress that made us wonder how we could afford to stay long term and how everyone seemed to make it work. The financial benefit of remaining included a rising appreciation of the home’s values. But leaving meant we could use that large down payment on more stable and profitable investments.
The real kicker was our stage in life. We had two young children in an apartment without a courtyard and our families a 30 hour drive away. After losing one of our parents unexpectedly, we wanted our children and parents to have rich experiences with each other during this precious phase.
My husband found a home job and I was able to start a master’s degree with the support of my parents nearby.
We miss the friendships and fascinating people we became close to in Los Angeles, the pop-up opportunities to attend a movie screening, and the awesome hikes. My daughter says she wants to be a ballerina and an actress, and sometimes I wonder if we’ve gone from the right place to the wrong place for her dreams.
The emotions of leaving on this one-way flight were exhausting. Change is not easy. But we do take advantage of what’s new from the Midwest, like hanging out with live pigs in the farm store, welcoming baby goats to our yard, and visiting the local dairy, where we eat lots of artisan cheese and ice cream.
We share the four seasons of watching thunderstorms, snowball battles, spring blooms, and summer pontoon rides. And, of course, the love of grandma and grandpa goes a long way.
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